Onorato gains ground on Corbett in latest gubernatorial poll

Candidates for Pennsylvania governor: Attorney General Tom Corbett, Republican (left) and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, Democrat.
Candidates for Pennsylvania governor: Attorney General Tom Corbett, Republican (left) and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, Democrat. (Roslyn Rudolph)
Posted: September 29, 2010

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, the Democratic nominee for governor, is closing the gap with the Republican front-runner, state Attorney General Tom Corbett, according to a Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

Onorato, who trails Corbett among registered voters 33 percent to 30 percent with 37 percent undecided, is benefiting from people getting to know him through campaign commercials on television, poll director G. Terry Madonna said.

"The race has been closer than I think we have been talking about in the past," Madonna said.

Corbett's lead grows to 4 points, 36-32, among likely voters with 31 percent undecided.

In Madonna's last poll, on Aug. 26, Corbett held an 11-point lead over Onorato with likely voters, 38-27 percent, with 31 percent undecided,

But Madonna sees trouble for Onorato when it comes to voter turnout.

Republican voters polled expressed more enthusiasm than did Democrats about voting in the Nov. 2 general election. The poll found 41 percent of Republicans declaring themselves likely voters, compared with 31 percent of Democrats.

"That's something we have not seen before," Madonna said of the 10-point spread.

And Corbett holds a more than 2-to-1 edge on Onorato in campaign contributions, according to finance reports filed last week. That will help him spread his message further as Election Day approaches.

In the race for the U.S. Senate, former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey holds a 32-29 percent lead among registered voters against his Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, with 39 percent undecided. Among likely voters, Toomey's lead jumps to 38-29 percent with 32 percent undecided.

Madonna noted that those numbers show little change from his Aug. 26 poll.

Again, partisan enthusiasm is at play in this race, he said. About a third of voters who supported President Obama in the 2008 election were considered most likely to vote in November, while 40 percent of voters who supported U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, are considered most likely to vote.

"I think the Senate race is really a barometer, if you will, of the national mood, and a referendum on the Obama policies and the president," Madonna said. "In that event, it dramatically favors Republicans."

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